I’m in the midst of ‘data walking’ and rereading the interviews, blog posts, tweets and observations I’ve made over the past year or so. One episode opened up when I was copied in on a tweet by Aaron:
The post referred to in the tweet was one in which Aaron was reflecting back after concluding a week occupying the ‘chair’ of a RoCur account, @EduTweetOz. RoCur is Rotation Curation and is where a different person each week takes the helm of social media account, usually Twitter. For @EduTweetOz:
“Each week a different educator will take responsibility for tweeting. We hope that people will use the space to share their experiences, pose questions, engage in dialogue about current educational issues and help each other out.
Guest tweeters and other educators will be showcased on this blog to share their passion for education with the wider community.”
This was a phenomenon that I was only peripherally aware of so Aaron’s post provided the incentive to dig a little deeper.
Aaron’s blog post provided a few insights from his perspective, but I guess different people will have very different viewpoints on what undertaking the role will have done for them. As Aaron remarked, different people have different agendas going into the role, so the account will be different depending on who is at the helm … which is I guess one of the main points. (In the week I’m writing this, Tamika Worrell used NAIDOC week as her framing, for example) There are no rules specified, other than being respectful, so people are ‘free’ to explore issues they choose, in a way they choose. Aaron felt he needed to do the things he usually does through his own account, and whilst that worked most of the time, there were a couple of things that dragged him in unexpected directions.
I wonder what the account does though? And I guess that can be in (at least) two ways – what it does to/for/with the temporary guardian, and what it does to the audience that the account serves. What difference does it make to people? Without having enjoyed a RoCur experience, what I offer then can be no more than speculation, but I’ll take a punt.
Firstly, it appears the account isn’t short of volunteers, and as Aaron remarked, some people have returned for a second shot. One assumes therefore that people are getting something positive out of it. It’s possible that the account gives its custodians a larger voice (it has around 12k followers) since they’re likely to be reaching more people. Not only will they be reaching more people, but in all likelihood, different people too. This has benefits for both sides in terms of exposing one another to different opinions. The host will have the benefit of offering their views to a different group of people and therefore being challenged in different ways, albeit for a short period of time. @EduTweetOz followers on the other hand, hear a different voice each week; perhaps a different voice from the ones they might normally choose to follow. A possible antidote to the echo chamber?
Another potential outcome for the host, is that they’re obliged to at least consider that they’re temporarily inhabiting a different persona. They’re speaking from behind a different avatar. Whilst some (most?) people will aim to ‘be themselves,’ others may view it as an opportunity to be more or less radical; more or less sensitive. I wonder if this might be analogous to temporarily ‘stepping up’ in school, where you have to do someone else’s job which is a post with more responsibility than your own. I remember having to take on the Head of Department’s role early in my career and being aware that I often needed to respond differently than I would have done as me, the plain old physics teacher. There were new considerations and I changed as a result.
I wonder too about how a given follower might be affected by an account which might be espousing one particular set of views one evening, then another the next day. Does it keep them on their toes? Do they need to step back for a moment, perhaps check the new host and their background before jumping in? In other words, does it encourage people to take stock before responding and to try to get a sense of where the host is coming from, before sending their 140 character rant? Maybe, maybe not.
It seems to me to that what a RoCur project offers most of all is that it stirs up the pot. It destablises the status quo and in being unsettled, we’re obliged to think in a different way. There’s a lot more to unpick here and it’s a shame I can’t devote more time to explore RoCur further, but I’m pretty sure to do it justice, it would need a full study in it’s own right! Time to write your PhD proposal …?